This is a common question among people who use (or would wish to use) a humidifier in the bedroom. Can you place the humidifier right next to the bed? What are the benefits and risks?
Also, many people ask about alternative placement options. If positioning the humidifier right next to the bed is not ideal, where else can you place within the bedroom to extract the maximum humidification benefits while you sleep?
While there is no harm in putting a humidifier next to your bed, it is best if you place it at least 3 feet away from your bed. At this position, you won’t be directly exposed to too much moisture, but the humidifier will still be able to distribute humid air evenly across the room.
Benefits of Using the Humidifier While You Sleep
Let’s begin with why anyone would want to have the humidifier in the bedroom, even right next to the bed, while they sleep. There are at least five key benefits of sleeping with a humidifier;
Fall asleep faster and sounder
Using a humidifier at night can go a long way in reducing dryness and congestion. It does so by helping the tiny hairs in the nose to move freely and do their job. The result is that you’re more at peace and thus likely to fall asleep faster. Humidifiers also reduce the time it takes to fall asleep by alleviating headaches that may keep you awake.
With regards to the quality of sleep, humidifiers can reduce or even eliminate the number of times you wake from dry and burning sensations in the nose. Those on CPAP will understand this right away. When the air around you is cold, the throat will be dry, and your nostrils may even begin to ache. The resulting irritation, and perhaps even pain, can cause you to wake up several times during the night.
Increased humidity in the room resulting from the humidifier helps mitigate the impact of the cool and usually dry air, allowing you to sleep more soundly. Remember that you can also add aromatherapy oils to your humidifier for even sounder sleep.
Snoring is a common problem that affects one in three people globally. There are many disadvantages of snoring, including reduced sleep quality, the tendency to wake up frequently during the sleep hours, and the potential to keep your partner awake. Indeed, snoring has even broken a few families. This usually happens in extreme cases where the partner cannot put up with the noises of the snoring better half.
Indoor air quality is one of the reasons people snore. This can happen in rooms that lack sufficient humidity. Dry air typically contains allergens that may irritate the throat. This kind of irritation may cause the throat’s delicate tissues to swell significantly, thus obstructing normal airflow. The situation can be particularly bad for people with allergies.
Sleeping with a humidifier can help alleviate this problem as the humidifier instantly resolves the dry air problem. All you need to do is switch on the humidifier an hour or so before you go to bed. This gives the humidifier plenty of time to add moisture to your room.
Humidifiers may slow down the spread of the influenza virus, thus reducing the risk of flu. That’s because the flu virus survives and spreads faster in dry air conditions. Humidification has been shown to slow down the spread of the virus. In one experiment carried out a few years ago and published in the Plos One journal, researchers installed humidifiers in two preschool classrooms. They compared them with two non-humidified classrooms throughout the full flu season. They found that samples of air and objects the kids touched in the humidified classrooms were less likely to contain the Influenza A virus than in non-humidified classrooms.
It was concluded that although improved humidity doesn’t directly impact the virus itself, it does make flu virus particles heavier, thus slowing down their movement. The heavier virus also falls out of the air faster after a sick person has coughed or sneezed them into the room.
Improved skin health
Finally, you’d like to have great, healthy skin, wouldn’t you? Well, then, you need to maintain the correct humidity levels in your home at all times, including at night. Recent research published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology shows that even a 30% drop in indoor humidity can lead to fine wrinkles in as little as 30 minutes. Additionally, reduced humidity causes decreased skin elasticity and increased skin roughness. It may also worsen skin conditions.
According to the research, relative humidity – the amount of moisture present in the air compared to the maximum amount the air can hold at that given temperature – is particularly important. It’s vital that you maintain a relative humidity of 30%-50% at all times, even at night.
Can You Put it Next to the bed?
The short answer is – it’s not advisable. While most humidifiers are harmless, even right next to the bed, you can never be too careful with electric appliances. Moreover, you’re likely to benefit more from the humidifier if it’s located a few feet away.
Let’s go back a few steps to understand these two factors better. The humidifier’s primary role is to provide additional moisture in the home to effectively raise the room’s humidity. The standard humidifier does so by breaking down water (contained in a tank) into fine mist particles. The particles are then distributed into the room.
All room humidifiers are powered by electricity. The appliances come with a cord that’s plugged into the standard household outlet.
Humidifiers use one of four methods to break down water into moisture particles – ultrasonic vibrations, evaporation, impeller action, and steaming.
- Ultrasonic humidifiers: Rely on a high-frequency sound vibration to break down water particles into fine mist particles.
- Evaporative humidifiers: Use a wick filter to absorb water from a tank. A fan system then blows air through the wick to break down the water into mist.
- Impeller humidifiers: These models use a rotating disc to fling water at a diffuser, which breaks the water particles into fine mist particles.
- Steam humidifiers: Boil water to evaporation. The steam is then forced out of the humidifier unit and dispersed into the room.
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Safety and Other Risks of Placing the Humidifier Too Close to the Bed
Starting with the electricity, you can see why placing the humidifier too close to the bed may not be good for your safety. Electric appliances malfunction without notice. There can be a power surge that causes the electrical system to blow. Imagine if this happens in the dark of night with the humidifier only a few inches away from your head! A lot can go wrong, right?
Yet, that’s not the only risk associated with placing the humidifier too close to your bed while you sleep. Consider the following;
- Tank spills and leaks: Nearly all humidifier tanks are made of plastic. They can spill or leak. Would you want the leaking humidifier to be only a few inches away from your bed? There’s a great chance some of the water may pour onto your bed, disrupting your sleep.
- Electrocution risk: If the humidifier is too close to the bed, there’s always a risk of the cords finding a way onto your bed. Now, imagine if this happens, and there’s a water leak or spill! It creates an unnecessary electrocution risk, right? What’s worse, you’ll be deep asleep to address the leaks or cable mess.
- Over-humidification: Another key challenge is humidification. The purpose of a humidifier is to provide additional moisture, which then mixes with air in your room to create a comfortable environment with breathable air. You’re not supposed to breathe all the moisture coming from the humidifier as too much moisture isn’t good for your body either. Yet, that’s what would happen if your head is right next to the humidifier the entire night.
- Noise hazards: Most humidifiers are essentially noise-free. In particular, ultrasonic models are very quiet, with some rated under 25 decibels, which is almost the sound of a library. However, some aren’t so silent. Impeller models and evaporative models (because of the fan action), in particular, are a bit noisy, often rated at 55+ decibels. It’s practically impossible to enjoy quality sleep with such a humidifier located right next to your head.
- Burn risks: Finally, humidifiers can be either cool-mist or warm-mist. Cool mist humidifiers produce moisture at room temperature, whereas warm-mist models produce hot moisture. If you intend to use a cool-mist humidifier in your bedroom overnight, then the risks become even greater. For one, warm-mist humidifiers get very hot. Secondly, the moisture is also hot, especially as it exits the humidifier nozzle. In both cases, the risk of burns is very high.
Humidifiers are a valuable tool in the bedroom. The extra moisture is critical for our sinuses and respiratory systems. The right humidity also guarantees a shorter time-to-sleep and higher quality sleep. Above all, maintaining 30-50% humidity in the home around the clock is good for your skin and general health.
However, that doesn’t mean you should position the humidifier right next to the bed. From over-humidification to electrocution and noise hazards, the risks are too high. Ideally, you want to place the humidifier at least three feet away from the bed, towards the feet.
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Melanie Mavery is an aspiring HVAC technician who is fascinated by the trends and opportunities in the HVAC industry. She spends most of her day writing content on home improvement topics and outreaching to prospects. She’s always looking for ways to support HVACs!